Cannabis generating revenue for community

Published 2:00 pm Friday, September 15, 2023

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Well another Michiana summer is in the books! For the most part a truly beautiful one with a little extra warmth on the side. Here at Green Stem we celebrated our 4th summer season in the Niles community and enjoyed another great year. The reason for our success here in South West Michigan/North East Indiana area might be surprising to some but should be quite obvious, location, location, location. Some may not realize that Michiana is the virtual crossroads of our nation.

Millions (not thousands) of folks every year pass through our area between Memorial and Labor Day. Many are heading farther north to Traverse City or to the UP, however a considerable amount of the vacationers are stopping in our beautiful SW Michigan area first, to enjoy our orchards, farms and of course our outstanding lakes. But those visitors/vacationers have been discovering another reason to visit our bountiful area, cannabis.

I know many people will scoff at this statement but it is absolutely true. The availability of Cannabis is not only generating additional visitors, it is pumping significant dollars into our local economy. Just look at the new businesses that have opened in Niles since cannabis launched in our community, can’t wait for Dunkin’ Doughnuts! The reason new establishments are opening in Niles is because they have noticed the substantial increase in tourism traffic.

Slowly, the stigma around cannabis is beginning to show signs of fading. 23 states, plus Washington DC and Guam have totally legalized the Adult Use (recreational) cannabis and 15 additional States have Medical Cannabis programs. That’s 38 states and territories that cannabis is legal. The latest polls show 75% of adults want cannabis to be fully legal in all States. So, it should be of little surprise that our area has become a “destination” for many of these “enlightened” travelers/visitors due to the simple fact that we have 15 licensed Provisioning Centers in a 20 miles radius of downtown Niles (17 if you add the two PCs in Cassopolis and 25+ when you add the others in Benton Harbor, Dowagiac, and the soon to open PCs in New Buffalo).  

At Green Stem in July, we averaged over 4,700 customers served each week, serving a total of 20,666. So if we extrapolate that figure to the other Cannabis establishments in our area, we are looking at approximately 250,000 – 300,000 vacationers/visitors each month coming to purchase cannabis in South West Michigan! When those same tourists who are visiting cannabis shops, are also shopping in our stores, eating in our restaurants, buying gas and finding out what else our area has to offer. That folks is called real and substantial tourism business!

Each year we have been in operation during June, July and August, Green Stem has served someone from every State in the Union, including Alaska and Hawaii, we can’t forget Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Guam and oh yeah Canada and Mexico too! Something that really excites me personally is witnessing the tremendous growth in Seniors (65+) either getting back into cannabis or checking it out for the first time. They are finally realizing how they have been duped by the system and that cannabis actually does have a place in their medical health regimen. 

This cannabis inspired tourism should be embraced by our community, it bring jobs, business development and most importantly opportunity. We don’t ask much from the City of Niles, we appreciate our police and fire departments for their dedicated service but it would greatly help if the city leaders actually looked at the local cannabis industry like they do “normal businesses”. Why can McDonald’s, Arby’s, Speedway, Taco Bell, Banks/Credit Unions and for that matter liquor and smoke stores have neon signs and ads on their buildings but cannabis store can’t even light a simple sign identifying our business.

It has been well over 4 years since cannabis retail operations opened in Niles, it is about time that the city officials consider our businesses as not only important but essential to growth and livelihood of our now prospering community and the entire surrounding area. If we want tourism and business to thrive in Michiana then our City leaders must shake off the ignorant stigma of cannabis and support our efforts with the same attitude and manor they do for other local enterprises.   

George Lynch is the owner of Green Stem Provisioning in Niles. He loves to share his  knowledge and passion for cannabis and to dispel the misinformation surrounding the cannabis plant.